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October 1, 2013

The Capitol Beat: Two Hundred Some Cups of Tea and Still Brewing

By Marta Steele

The Tea Party out in full force on a lovely autumn day.


(Article changed on October 1, 2013 at 20:11)

(Article changed on October 1, 2013 at 18:40)

8 cups of tea by Marta Steele

On this exquisitely perfect autumn day, first day of the government shutdown, I headed to Capitol Hill for a rally in support of Obamacare. Instead I came upon one against FDA approval of opioids, with various people telling tragic stories about the consequences of addiction to them. "FED UP!" said their purple and white tee shirts. Representative Jean Schakowsky (D-IL) was their high-profile presence--in case I wondered about the political persuasion of the participants.

     I left the scene, saddened by one story after the next, and explored the comparatively empty area. There were a few government employees milling around, and the expected reduced accessibility of their workplace buildings, with even important-looking suits walking away from locked doors, wondering how to enter the buildings. One inconspicuous basement entrance was open in the Russell Senate building.

     I photographed a homeless person, a tour group, and the deserted area around the capitol building, an armed guard the sole presence on the wide, sprawling stairways. I photographed the SCOTUS building and the Washington Monument imprisoned behind scaffolding similarly--the latter still in progress from the earthquake that hit two years ago. A spire of the National Cathedral is also still scaffolded.

     I've saved the worst for last. On the lawn in front of the capitol, press was evident, CNN and the local DC Channel 8, for starters. I went up to a CNN photographer to find out what was going on but he was whisked away in midsentence to film an interview. A glamorous group clustered in front of me: glamorous platinum blond newscaster and a few ogling suits. I was comfortably seated within hearing distance, anxious for content, but they decided to relocate because the sun was too bright, no offense to the straw-hatted, sunglass-wearing cameo attempting to be inconspicuous.

     Then I began to hear loud chants from isolated individuals on the periphery: one was a twenty-year-old man complaining that he wanted to go to college but couldn't afford it. Then I realized that the older man I had practically collided with as I approached the scene was Sen. Harry Reid, looking feverishly distraught. I met his eyes with sympathy, wondering if he was Harry Reid, but he seemed to have too much hair on his head, blowing in the wind.

     I was assured it was Harry by what followed. A huge clump of suits ascended onto the lawn where a lectern had been positioned. Oh, my God, who were they? Rand Paul? Ted Cruz? I joined a crowd that had swiftly assembled in front of the clump. The Tea Party!

     One after another, they complained self-righteously about Obama and Reid's refusal to sit down and talk when they were doing just that with each other and, moreover, continuing to consider other vitally important issues. Without pay, I was later reassured. Reid's name was disparaged again and again for refusing to give way to these enlightened and reasonable icons of democracy.

     Why, they had the perfect solution. The twenty year old continued to rotate around the clump of us with his audible chant. Other kindred spirits kept saying, "Wake up! Wake up! Do your job!The people hate you! Do what you were hired to do!" One woman from the sidelines called out that Obama had been reelected after the ACA was passed. They were going against the will of the people.

     Oh, but there were answers. They were going to cut up Obamacare and address it item by item. Do allocate to veteran medical care, for instance. The lines are far too long. I muttered something about their popularity level, at 10 percent, being lower than that of cockroaches (which was confirmed by a newscast a few days ago--no joke). The people surrounding me oozed contempt . . . at me.

     Oh, how they spun. The audience was largely silent beyond the few vocal objections clearly heard and largely ignored, except for one suit who affirmed that they had the right to express themselves.

     But get this, there was no applause and no supportive cheering. Press conferences are press conferences, I guess, but this was a hybrid group.

     Then a few members of the press, all standing in the front row, did chime in with questions, few if any challenging and all challenges spun around effortlessly. Soon after, the suits dispersed and I joined one small clump surrounding Louisiana Rep. John Fleming. What were the two tony young reporters asking him? I swear that they were saying nothing. I do believe that at one point he reassured them that he had the support of his constituents. One of the reporters, a platinum blond, gushed how famous they were and how great it was to meet them before she walked off clumsily.

     I was poker-faced, eager to hear something, anything that made sense. I to conjure up a question that might have been answered sincerely. "Are you idiots?" No, that wouldn't have done it. I looked around at the suits in despair.

      Then I walked off without looking back. 

Submitters Website: http://www.wordsunltd.com; http://www.editingunltd.com

Submitters Bio:

A jack of some trades, writing and editing among them, Marta Steele, an admitted and proud holdover from the late sixties, returned to activism ten years ago after first establishing her skills as a college [mostly adjunct] professor in three subjects, then writer ("born" in the South, of course), then mother, then highly successful publishing professional (editor). In the latter context, she began to write or, more accurately, couldn't stop herself from protesting when the entire country came down with media/ Monica obsession and, stripped of judgment, turned to impeach a capable president for doing, perhaps too openly, what few presidents haven't either done themselves or wanted to. Subsequently and probably as a result, Bush was elected and Steele's venom turned against the hideous corruption that had accomplished this. She became an election integrity activist and harsh media critic, incredulous about media indifference to issues of vital importance to democracy. She also became a peace activist, serving on the board of the Delaware Valley Coalition for Peace Action and writing droves of blog entries on this subject. Even as protest against the Iraq invasion burgeoned, the media had other, yellower, red herrings to throw at us. Concerned to inform the future if not the present about the protest movement and the amazing words and events that accompanied it, she attended as many protest events as she could, ink freezing in her pen under the worst weather conditions. These writings reside in hard-copy archives of Words, UnLtd., a paper journal born in 1999, as every blog entry since its cyberspace rebirth in 2005, just when the election integrity movement burgeoned, "fooled again" by Bush's reelection in 2004. She works as a freelance editor (mostly academic) and writer, the proud mom of an ABD. Liza Gwendolyn, working to gain her PhD in public sociology at Princeton University. She still blogs regularly, mainly at Wordsunltd.com and Opednews, but writings are picked up at other sites and sent out into the blogosphere and hard-copy publications as well. At work on an 8-year history of the election integrity movement, she was stricken with Bell's Palsy and had to divert her energies. Time willing, once this monster abates (well on its way, deo gratias), she hopes to resume work on it. She has a large opus she'd like to publish in hard copy as essay anthologies, but so far that hasn't worked--the advice is to make an attracting enough name to succeed in an effort that usually follows upon more single-themed hard-copy and public visibility. Wish me luck. All leads welcome. Stage two: single-themed hard copy accomplished--advance orders welcome for "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols." Blurb follows below: "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: How the People Lost and Won, 2000-2008," by Election Integrity (EI) activist Marta Steele, is a history of the Election Integrity movement from 2000 to 2008, highlighting the corrupt practices of that decade, and how the people rallied to control and ultimately overcome them, at least in Election 2008. What happened thereafter will become another book. The culprits were highly corruptible and low-quality machines and the machinery that allowed them to proliferate, defying the will of the people in favor of conservative values unconcerned with the exigent issues that drew the people to the polls. Voters turned out in record numbers in 2008. Thirty percent of those who usually sit out elections (a total of about 100 million) showed up. For their will not to have prevailed would have represented the biggest travesty in our nation's history; and yet a week before Election Day both John McCain and Karl Rove were predicting a Republican victory. Then Rove changed his mind on the eve of Election Day, predicting that Obama would win. But this occurred after the huge battle, at so many levels, ultimately boiled down to a deposition in Columbus, Ohio, on November 3, 2008, of a Rove IT operative. Once Judge Solomon Oliver found holes in the deposition, the people's will exploded and the people's choice went to Washington. Perhaps the day before Election 2008 did not become the major holiday it should have because the machinery of election corruption is up and running again and the people are still fighting. But in Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols the dramatic victory achieved was a successful revolution and in the long run may be remembered for that. The ultimate success will not be a sigh of relief and a cheer for a brief period of time, but the permanent death of anti-American activities. Our vote is our sacred right, nothing we need to acquire with a government-issued photo i.d. It is the bottom line of democracy. Without it, there is no democracy, which is not an abstract noun but continuous work. All this our founding fathers knew and passed down to us, a tough legacy and challenge but well worth our necessary efforts.